Garratt v. Dailey

Supreme Court of Washington, 1955

46 Wash.2d 197, 279 P.2d 1091

 

Facts

Brian Dailey (just under 6 years old) was visiting with Naomi Garratt, and they were visiting Ruth Garratt at Ruth Garratt’s home. Brian and Naomi were in the backyard of the home and subsequent to Ruth Garratt coming outside, Brian moved a small canvas backed chair a few feet in another direction and seated himself in it. Brian states that he tried to move the chair back to the original position when he saw Ruth begin to sit down in the same place where the chair had once been and Ruth states that Brian deliberately removed the chair when he saw her begin to sit down. Despite these differences in the story, Ruth breaks her hip as she hits the ground.

 

Procedural History

The trial Court held that the Plaintiff failed to demonstrate a theory of Battery (“the intentional infliction of a harmful bodily contact upon another”)

Issue

Whether an act of battery can be established upon the Defendant’s knowledge that his actions might cause harm with a “substantial certainty.” 

Holding

The court holds that the case be remanded for clarification of whether or not Brian knew with substantial certainty that Ruth would sit down in the same place the chair was, even if the chair was no longer there.

Reasoning behind Holding

Clarification of this will allow for the court to understand the level of intent factored into Brian’s actions. This will allow the definition of battery to apply, or to continue to not apply.

Policy Arguments

The instant court’s decision wants it to be understood that the Defendant’s age not important to the case, except “in determining what he knew, and there his experience, capacity, and understanding are of course material.”

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